GLBT

All of Me

“These wounds won’t seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There’s just too much that time cannot erase”
— Evanescence,
My Immortal

As you can see, I spent some time at the local cemetery again, pondering and perusing the grave decorations. I came upon a few decorations I wanted to photograph for inclusion in my series A Grave Image, and will share those in my next few posts. There is something oddly cathartic for me in the making of these images; something that makes losing James take on a broader context among so many other monuments and tokens commemorating life, friendship and undying love. I find community and understanding in these visual testimonies placed here by fellow members of the fraternity of grief into which I’ve been involuntarily swept up and irrevocably indoctrinated.

I’m pretty happy with the way this turned out. She seemed to take on a life of her own during post-processing and the final image emerged without any forethought of creative intent on my part. I hope you like it.

"The Third Angel" - copyright 2014, earlharrisphotography

“The Third Angel”, Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/2.8 at 1/2500 sec., 28mm
Click the image to view larger size and available print options.

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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

Booking family, personal, business and pet portrait sittings throughout Central Florida

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Eggsistential

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Four-score Men and Four-score more,
Could not make Humpty Dumpty what he was before.
      — Samuel Arnold, Juvenile Amusements, 1797

I am a few days early for a new year’s eve message, but today’s photo prompts me to get on with it. As I was walking along a sidewalk downtown, I came upon an egg that had fallen out of a nest built on a street light above. The sun had dried out the splattered yolk and a few ants scurried about the broken shell, feasting on misfortune. It struck me as a fitting reflection and symbol of the year that now comes to a close.

Despite the many advances in GLBT rights, I will forever equate 2013 to loss, destruction, pain and death. It is the year that shattered my life of happiness with James, watching him so cruelly and horrifyingly being eaten alive by cancer. Like a new and long-hoped-for egg, we embarked on the adventure of marriage on July 29 – after 21 years together – only to have that monumental accomplishment tossed out and splattered across the sidewalk a month-and-a-half later. Now, I sit alone in a nest that echoes with emptiness while hell taunts me with thoughts of what was and what never will be.

Goodbye, 2013 – and good riddance! I pray that 2014 will be a year that holds some hope of starting to heal from the experience this egg and I have shared. Perhaps my hopes are tainted by knowing all-too-well how Humpty Dumpty turned out.

"Eggsistential" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/2.0 at 1/350 sec., 85mm

“Eggsistential” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/2.0 at 1/350 sec., 85mm
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Please vote for this blog in the 2013 Cool Photo Blog Awards – just click here and it’s done. Many thanks for your support!

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Now booking individual, couples, family and business portrait sessions for 2014

Current Social Engagements

Find me on Instagram at @EarlHarrisPhoto, where I am posting photos (including lots of kitty pics!) captured and edited solely on my iPhone. #herekittykitty #instagramcats

Tweeting from @EarlHarrisPhoto

And, of course, I’m on Facebook.

Cross of Shadows: A Question of Character

WARNING: Today’s photo comes with a bit of a personal soap box. Thanks for indulging me.

 

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
— 1 John 4:8

Perhaps it’s all the hoopla and undeserved attention Phil Robertson is getting that compels me to write today’s post. I’ll be the first to admit it contains a great deal of an entirely personal rant based on entirely personal perception. I hope you’ll excuse me for adding another voice to the chaos.

As a second-class citizen currently denied the rights given to others, I quite often encounter those who think of themselves as Christians acting as voices for hate rather than love. To that point, today’s post is intended as a bit of a reality check. It is quite clear that A FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH has been put aside in the practice of the Christian faith, one which concerns me greatly. It is the question of God’s character and the failure of most denominations to understand and conform their teachings to this simple and critical truth.

The Bible teaches that God is love. (1 John 4:8). But what exactly does that mean? Let’s start by looking at what it does not mean: It doesn’t mean that God is loving. You and I can be loving, but we cannot be love. Only God can do that. Since scripture should always be used to interpret scripture, we can look at 1 Corinthians 13, verses 4 – 8 for a definition of love. And here’s where I’m going to ask you to do something different. Instead of reading these familiar verses as a revelation of what love is, understand them as a revelation of who God is. I’ve substituted “God” where “love” occurs in the scripture to help you see it.

“4 Love God is patient, love God is kind, it He isn’t jealous, it He doesn’t brag, it He isn’t arrogant, 5 it He isn’t rude, it He doesn’t seek His own advantage, it He isn’t irritable, it He doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it He isn’t happy with injustice, but is happy with the truth. 7 Love God puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. 8 Love God never fails…”

Why isn’t this what churches — and Christians — are teaching today? How many times have you heard preachers hurl from the pulpit endless strings of admonishment about God being angry, eager to throw sinners into hell? How can this be reconciled with the clear scriptural evidence of God’s character? Who should you choose to believe, the Bible or your pastor? Yes — the Bible does say to “fear God”, but is the concept of “fear” communicated the kind that leaves us quaking with terror in a corner somewhere, incapable of having a relationship with Him? How can you truly love someone you’re taught to be afraid of? No, it means to look upon Him with awe and respect, reconciled to the truth that there is and can be no greater focus for our love and allegiance.

And what’s truly beautiful about that is the fact that God’s character is unchanging. Can you say the same about your understanding of Him? I hope not. “Judgment Day”, rightly understood, is not so much about how we are judged by God as it ultimately is about how we have judged Him. I may not be trained in theology, but I have spent my life studying God’s Word and seeking to know Him, despite the attitude of the church toward me. Though it would be nice to be accepted into a church family on the sole fact that I love God and seek to have a relationship with Him, I don’t need other believers to validate and confirm God’s love for me. I am grateful for the fact that God is love, even though most Christians are not even loving. Phil Robertson, and those like him, would do well to revisit Scripture and do so with an open mind and a spirit of understanding. Until they do, it’s not God they are serving, but His antithesis. Simply put, if it’s not love that motivates you, it’s not God.

"Cross of Shadows" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 3200, f/1.8 at 1/80 sec. handheld, 50 mm

“Cross of Shadows” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 3200, f/1.8 at 1/80 sec., 50 mm

I would appreciate a vote from you in the 2013 Cool Photo Blog Awards. Just click here and you’re done. Thanks for your support!

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Social Engagements

Follow me on Instagram at @EarlHarrisPhoto, where I am posting photos (and quite a few kitty pics!) captured and edited on my iPhone. #herekittykitty #instagramcats

Tweeting from @EarlHarrisPhoto

Living Through Death

At 7:15 AM on Thursday morning, 12 September 2013, the love of my life closed his eyes and won his 5-year battle with cancer. He will no longer play host to this hellish disease. No more will it eat away and destroy his body. No more hospice workers, medications, blood draws, infusions, scans and probes. Because cancer rendered him incapable of swallowing, no more must he agonize from going over 40 days without nutrition, save small amounts of water misted into his mouth with a squirt bottle so he could just let moisture trickle down his throat. No more will it cause him to worry about those he leaves behind. Yes, James won his fight with cancer, despite the fact it claimed his life.

To know James was to know a man of great faith. He had no fear of death and no fear of dying. He only feared what his death would do to those cherished loved ones he would leave behind. I believe that James won his battle, despite the fact cancer took him from us.  I believe this because, while it took his body, it did not take our love. It did not take our hope. It did not take our memories. It did not take the warmth that stirs in the heart when we think of James. It didn’t erase the impact he had on so many lives nor what he meant to so many people. It didn’t destroy friendships. It didn’t erase the innumerable acts of kindness and charity that James performed throughout his life. It didn’t unrescue all the animals he so compassionately rescued nor his ability to always put others before himself. It didn’t undo the joy that I learned comes from serving the one you love; from giving of yourself completely in order to care for their every need in any way you can.

In October, James and I would have celebrated 22 years together. During the course of these years, James taught me what it truly meant to love others. He provided a daily example of the life and vitality that comes from having a relationship with God – even if you’re gay. Prior to getting too sick to do so, each morning as James would get out of bed, he would walk straight to our bedroom window, raise the blinds, look outside and thank God for another day of life — another day for us to be together and another day to be with Him. By his examples, he taught me so many lessons with no awareness that he was doing so.

iPhone selfie moments after we were married in D.C.

iPhone selfie caught moments after we were married in D.C.

On June 26, when we first heard the news on MSNBC that the Supreme Court had struck down DOMA, James – not feeling too great after a chemo treatment – looked at me from his bed. With tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, he asked me to marry him. It is one of two moments I shall forever cherish. The second was July 29th, when – despite being weak and unusually sick from chemo, James insisted we stick to our plans to fly to Washington D.C. to be married, returning home the same day. Those few minutes it took for Rev. Cedric Harmon to officiate as we exchanged our vows in the shade of a tree on the courthouse lawn are among the best minutes of my life; I have never been so proud. That the events around DOMA unfolded in such a way and a time that James and I could realize our long-held dream of getting married was a blessing and a gift.

The photo of James below was taken in June, when his sister and childhood friend TC were down for a visit. We drove over to Canaveral Seashore, and I managed to capture this shot of James looking out at the water from the safety of the wooden steps leading from the parking lot to the sand. I was pleased because James hated having his photo taken and seldom would let me do it. I think he probably knew it would be one of the last times I’d ask.

As I heal from my grief and begin to refocus my energies back toward photography and building my business here in Central Florida, posts on I Shutter at the Thought! will resume and eventually take on some regularity again. Thank you for your support during what has been a consuming and stressful time. So many of you have reached out to me and offered me words of much needed encouragement, support and prayers. Please know your efforts have sustained me.

"James" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 100, f/2.0 at 1/5000 sec., 50 mm

“James” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 100, f/2.0 at 1/5000 sec., 50 mm

In closing, I include this video from Carly Simon, which I was thrilled to find on YouTube. It is my favorite version of a song I often sang to myself and subjected James to as I cared for him over the last year, when things got so bad. It’s a song about light, for a person who was a light and a beacon for so many.

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Find me on Instagram at @EarlHarrisPhoto, where I am posting photos captured and edited solely on my iPhone. If you like cats, I seem to be posting a lot of photos of them there… #instagramcats

Celebrating the life of a good friend who’s passed

Thank you, John, for providing me with today’s post. I will cherish this.

A View From The Middle (Class)

This is one of those articles I haven’t wanted to write, but the need to do so still exists.  My family lost a good friend today.  However, the belief is still there that the parting need not be sorrowful, it’s more a matter of time until we meet again.

James Cantrell died this morning in Florida after a long and agonizing yet still courageous battle with cancer.  Those are hard words to write.  They’re words that bring about anger — aimed directly at the illness that took James’ life, and the lives of too many others.

But, knowing James, he wouldn’t want us to be sad for long.  He’d want us to celebrate the life that he led.

In many ways, it was the kind of life everyone could take a piece from and use as an example on how to live it to the fullest, and to show how…

View original post 1,443 more words

Last Stand in Stockton – Revisited

Last September, I posted a photo I had taken in July just before the onset of the whirlwind that snatched James and me out of Utah and landed us in Florida. I wasn’t really happy with the photo, but in a rush to try to get something on my blog I threw up an “as is” version anyway. With James’ miracle of healing and pronouncement of being cancer-free despite an original terminal prognosis, our lives are no longer being primarily spent at Orlando’s M. D. Anderson Cancer Clinic. I am thus finding time to blog again on a more regular schedule.

One of the things I’ve been looking forward to was revisiting that photo – one of the first I captured with my pawn shop find of a Mamiya 645 Super medium format film camera. Here it is; I’m much happier with it now. I hope you like it, too.

Mamiya 645 Super, Ilford FP4 Plus ISO 125 film, 50 mm (I failed to record the shutter speed and f/stop used.)

Mamiya 645 Super, Ilford FP4 Plus ISO 125 film, 50 mm (I failed to record the shutter speed and f/stop used.)

As a side note, the period of inactivity on this blog understandably diminished its following. If you like this post, I would be extremely grateful if you’d please consider sharing it with others. And please come back again!

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Websites for Photographers

Struggling for Hope

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 85mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 85mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec

Broken and torn, shattered
shards of dreams and promises litter the floor
inflicting new pain as we step through the memories
progress, hindered by repetition of the unknown and the unwanted.

Agony, punctuated by tears
what happened? why this? why him? please wake up!
this isn’t where we’re supposed to be
remorse for what has been lost, fear of what is to come.

The loved and the loving
stand helpless and unappeased
watching lives dissolving in torrents of wet grief
mouths incapable of finding words to match the depth of the heart.

Trust, believe and fight, fight, fight
there is a plan, a purpose not yet revealed
counsels echo through the hours in the struggle for hope
and he reaches out to touch the hem of a beautiful cherished robe.

– December 10, 2012

AN EXPLANATION

Last August, on the eve of my birthday, we learned that my partner of 20 years had a new battle with cancer to fight. Having already been through 5 surgeries over the course of 4 years, we thought we had passed through this valley once and for all when he was pronounced cancer-free following radiation treatments ending in October, 2011. A PET scan reiterated this finding in February, 2012.With the August pronouncement of a new tumor in a new location, we packed our house and moved across the country to be closer to family. Perhaps you have noticed that this had a significant impact on my ability to post on my blog until now. With computer and camera gear now accessible at last, I shall strive to update it more regularly, occasionally sharing moments of this journey into hell and perhaps finding a bit of catharsis in the process.

Pride is Humane

Today marks the last post in this week’s series from the 2012 Utah Pride parade and festival (if you’ve missed them, start here). It is, therefore, with great pride that I devote today’s post to the wonderful staff and volunteers at the Humane Society of Utah and their presence and participation.

My regular readers know of my commitment to working with HSU to promote pet adoptions and serve adoptable pets through my photography. There are so many ways you can help, too – and many of them don’t require your valuable  time! Please contact or visit HSU to find out what you can do to help.

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
― Mother Teresa

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.
― Stephen R. Covey

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Thank you for stopping by I Shutter At The Thought!
Please come again tomorrow for another new post and photo(s)
and thanks for sharing this post with others.

Earl Harris Photography is proud to serve and photograph Utah’s GLBT community and its supporters.

The Answer to Difference

Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.
– John Hume

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/7.1, 90 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/7.1, 62 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/320 sec. at f/10, 20 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/320 sec. at f/4.5, 18 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/640 sec. at f/11, 18 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/160 sec. at f/18, 36 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 sec. at f/9.0

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/7.1, 46 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 at f/32, 65 mm

Are you pictured in today’s post?
Please  contact me if you would like a free full-sized
digital copy of your photo.

Earl Harris Photography is proud to serve and photograph Utah’s GLBT community.

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Thank you for leaving your comments below.
Be sure to stop back by tomorrow for the last
post to feature photos from Utah Pride.

A Diverse Family

The human family is very diverse, with many different beliefs and cultures and ways of life. Many conflicts in our world are caused when people are intolerant of the ways that others see the world. Learning tolerance is an important cornerstone to creating a better world.
– Robert Alan Silverstein

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/640 sec. at f8, 27 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/200 sec. at f/9, 38 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/5.6, 200 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 sec. at f/10, 44 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/200 sec. at f/4.8, 55 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 sec. at f/9, 35 mm

Are you pictured here?
Please  contact me if you would like a full-sized
digital copy of your photo.

Earl Harris Photography is proud to serve and photograph Utah’s GLBT community.

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I appreciate your comments.
Be sure to stop back by Thursday and Friday for the last
two posts that will feature photos from Utah Pride.